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The XA Falcon GT Hardtop

After four years with the Falcon GTHO series Moffat spent his last few months with the Ford Works team driving a new car, the XA Falcon GT Hardtop.
This car was to provide him with great victory, but ended his reign as leader of the factory team with a horrifying accident.

Ford released their road version of the GT Hardtop without anyone knowing anything 'about it: the factory put its race bits into a package option known only as the GT Special.

Many of the parts were handed down from the projected Phase Four one year earlier, including the holley carburettor and exhaust headers. Other Phase Four parts were not required on a road car now because the more liberal rules alrowed changes in the specific areas anyway,
It all resulted in a little extra horsepower on the road car but meant far greater improvements and extra reliability on the track.

The car was introduced for the Manufacturers' Championship but Howard Marsden and his team at Ford really had a job of producing a race car for the first round as the Ford factory had been crippled by a two month strike.
The two new white and blue cars were finished for Moffat to do a little testing before he and Fred Gibson lined them up at Adelaide International Raceway.
With virtually the same running gear as Moffat's ATCC winning Phase Three GTHO, the new Ford Hardtops were immediately reliable and fast.
A faulty batch of valve springs caused problems in practice but Moffat lined up on the front row with Brock on a very wet track for the start of the race. Moffat diced with Bond early in the race before the Torana crashed but then Moffat lost five minutes in the pits putting in a new battery. He drove back through the field to claim third place while team mate Fred Gibson drove through the wet conditions for a fine victory,
Just to ram home the Ford victory, Kevin Bartlett drove John Goss's car brilliantly to take second place ahead of Moffat.
It was a memorable debut for the new cars.

For the next round, the Sandown 250, Ford brought along three cars, the third one being the test machine and driven by Pete Geoghegan who was to co-drive at Bathurst with Moffat.

This third car created some controversy as it retired from the race after a wheel and axle parted company with the back end. It was only then that someone noticed the Falcon was fitted with disc brakes at the rear while the Falcons at the time had to run drum brakes. It was realised that this car was being run as a prototype for Bathurst by which time four wheel disc brakes would be homologated to race legally.

Moffat and Gibson qualified fast to make it an all Ford white and blue front row and when the race started they immediately jumped into the lead ahead of Geoghegan's orange car then French's Falcon and the Holden Dealer Team XU1s.
Geoghegan lost his axle after only a couple of laps but Moffat and Gibson were soon sprinting away from the rest.
Then everything went wrong as Gibson lost a lap in the pits changing a punctured tyre and Moffat's engine blew at around half distance.
Brock and Bond went on to a one-two finish for Holden while Gibson came home strongly to take third a lap down.

For Bathurst, Howard Marsden had a plan which he put into force in practice, but it failed badly.
A special engine had been built up and tested on the dyno successfully, being theoretically perfect for Bathurst with a torquey camshaft. Both race cars were fitted with such engines while the test car had an old type engine fitted, as well as normal suspension (the race cars also had different spring rates).

But practice proved differently as Moffat could manage only third fastest time while the test car seemed to be far better. Overnight the two white racers were fitted with Sandown type engines while Moffat's car had the test car's front end grafted onto it and Gibson's was re-rated to similar specs in the hope that this would be right on race day.
It was a big risk - but it worked. Marsden, of course, was disappointed that his practice tactics had failed miserably but came out with the classic statement that "If a dynamometer could accurately gauge race performance it would be fitted with wheels"!

Race day proved that the Falcons had been revived.
Goss led away from pole position at record breaking speed but Moffat was not far behind. Gibson stormed through from seventh on the grid to hold third place in those early laps.
Gibson did not last long as he stopped the car at the top of the Mountain and confirmed there was a hole in the side of the block.
It remained there and gave Moffat something to worry about as he passed it on each successive lap knowing that the same thing could easily befall his own, supposedly identical, car.
By quarter distance Moffat had backed off a little and was dicing furiously with Brock when suddenly the white Superbird completed a graceful spin, apparently caused by a slower car baulking him. Moffat completed a three point turn before continuing. Everyone was now watching to see how Moffat's pit stop would go in view of two things. Firstly, the works cars had been fitted with built-in jacks, a modification Marsden had picked up while working for the Shelby team in America, and the second was the fact that Moffat's co-driver was Pete Geoghegan who is far greater in stature than Moffat.

In fact many people had written off Moffat because they thought Big Pete would be a car breaker.
It was a fairly good stop but the Holdens were quicker and it wasn't until the next fuel stops that Moffat really came back into the picture.
The leading HDT car of Brock and Doug Chivas ran out of fuel and lost a great deal of time while Chivas pushed the car up the pit straight rise into the pits proper.
At that time Geoghegan had already returned to the pits and changed back to Moffat ten laps earlier than expected as he suffered cramps in his hands.
Suddenly Moffat found himself 2-1/2 minutes clear of Bond and another two minutes up on Brock, the race apparently secure.
Another quick stop for a fuel top up and a little concern near the finish that Allan might run out of maximum time allowed in the car were the only dramas surrounding the Number nine Falcon.
But there was no need to worry as Moffat cruised home to win the very first 1000 kilometre Hardie Ferodo and his third Bathurst win in four years.

The next round of the ManChamp was at Surfers Paradise but Moffat's previously good record there came in for a belting.
Starting from the front row of the grid alongside Brock, the Falcon stalled and was hit by another car coming through from behind. Moffat was able to continue but retired at around the same time as Gibson's other works car. Both with engine failure.

Then came Phillip Island, the last round of the Manufacturers' Championship and a race which Allan Moffat would rather forget. Every Falcon was suffering from tyre failures on the rough island circuit which was breaking up badly in places.
Mid-way through the race Moffat had a tyre blowout on him while negotiating the faster sweeping corner on the circuit at around 120 miles an hour.
The Falcon speared off the track and Moffat thought it was relatively under control when it suddenly hit a hidden drain in the outfield and barrel-rolled a number of times before finally coming to rest, a total write-off. Moffat was badly knocked around and barely had enough strength to get out of the car before collapsing. Luckily his injuries were restricted to bruises and a fractured sternum bone, but he had learnt a lesson.

Years earlier Jackie Stewart had told him to get rid of his open face helmet and get a fully enclosed one but Moffat figured it was not necessary in a sedan, only open wheelers.
The accident drove home the necessity to have the very best safety equipment, even if it did seem unnecessary. Since that day Allan has used a full face helmet every time he races and is something of a stickler for safety.
He also gained a hate for the circuit through the accident, although he was never too keen on it anyway.
That race was also to be the last contested by the Ford Factory team.

In January of 1974 FoMoCo announced its withdrawal from motor racing with reasons given as cost, the fuel crisis and the need to spend more effort on safety and emission control of their passenger cars.
As a parting gesture they gave Moffat the car driven previously by Fred Gibson (Allan's own car being a write-off) while the spare car was presented to Gibson.
Moffat was now completely on his own again, but ready to continue almost alone with the Falcons.


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